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Small College Runner Taiwan Jones Impresses At Late Pro Day Workout
Draft Insiders' Yearbook Scouting Report
RB Taiwan Jones - Eastern Washington
Eastern Washington running back Taiwan Jones had an outstanding workout at his private pro day last week at a JC college in California. Jones preformed in front of almost 50 scouts from 27 teams with many running back coach in attendance. Jones was timed in the 40 in the low 4.3 range by most watches with some actually lower handheld times. This included a blazing 1.45 ten yard split time that would have been the top time at the NFL Combine 2011. He sat out the NFL Combine while still recovering from the December broken foot in the FCS playoffs and only participated in the weight lifting. He also posted a 39.5” VL and an 11’ BJ that would have ranked with the top prospects at the event.
This late workout should push Jones up the draft boards. We ranked him in the Top 100 prospects in our Yearbook edition with a possible 3rd-4th round grade. Jones came to our attention during the 2009 season after converting from defensive back and put up big numbers in his first action at running back. Over the past two seasons, he ran for almost 3,000 yards that includes over 1,700 last fall.
Jones has been compared with Chris Johnson and Jamaal Charles due to his elite speed. He will have to prove he can run inside at the NFL like those two pro feature backs and that his speed is not limited to straight-line numbers. That is the lingering question with Taiwan. Is he a complete back or a dangerous situational back with highly developed receiving skills for the third down role and the premier kickoff returner in the class. He has a long injury history that includes the broken footm an abdominal contusion, sports hernia surgery, two shoulder injuries, hand injury, hip flexor and fractured fibula in three seasons.
Taiwan Jones Scouting Report
Taiwan Jones #3 - 6’ 195 lbs. - Eastern Washington - Sp. 4.35 Rating 80
Fast angular junior tailback had an excellent 2010 season helping EW to win the FCS national title. Taiwan had back-to-back 1200 yard+ rushing seasons in his only two seasons at the position. He ranked 2nd in the FCS in both rushing yardage and all-purpose yardage, displaying big play ability as a runner, receiver and return specialist. His final season ended with a broken bone in his left foot that forced him to sit out the final two playoffs contests. The injury occurred in their playoff win over North Dakota St. when he rushed for a career high of 230 yards with over 200 of those yards coming in the first half. He has been an injury prone runner who has missed time annually for an assortment of ailments. During his junior season, he battled his way through shoulder, hip, hernia and hand injuries while starting 9 of 12 games. He originally started his EW career at cornerback where he performed well, though he missed the first four games of the season with a broken leg. He moved to running back for the 2009 season where he had an auspicious debut when he took his first handoff and went 87 yards for a TD. He rushed for over 1200 with 2345 all-purpose yardage that earned him honors. He is one of the more well rounded backs in this group with fine natural running and good receiving skills with the big play ability to be a top flight kickoff returner. He has a lean angular frame with the initial burst through the hole and the ability to get outside and break a play. He possesses good vision, quick feet and acceleration to get to top speed quickly and make plays. He is a slashing type runner who hits the hole quickly and is most effective when he runs in a north-south fashion with good pad level. He is a versatile athlete who can run inside and outside, catches the ball well and is a quality kickoff returner. He possesses a nice combination of elusiveness, acceleration and breakaway speed to rank among the top skill position players in this group. He has the explosive burst to get to the 2nd level and run away from defenders. He has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field with a top burst of speed and the ability to change speeds and follow blockers. He may be one of the premier receiving backs in this class, showing natural soft hands and developed route running skills. He has the return skills to win a starting job immediately as a kickoff returner where his big play ability may provide immediate impact. He has a lean frame and thin legs that gives him only marginal tackling breaking ability. He can run upright too often with poor pad level that leaves him exposed to hits and minimizes his ability to break tackles. He has only marginal leg power and relies on his elusiveness and speed to make yardage. Though he is highly developed as a receiver, he has poor blocker skills that will hinder him from winning the 3rd down role early in his career. As a receiver, he displays top hands and good route running and the ability to make a play on the perimeter and follow his blockers. He usually gets the ball on simple outlet passes and needs to develop and run the full route tree especially the wheel route where he could excel with refinement of his natural skills.
The Numbers: As a junior, he carried 221 times for 1807 yards for an impressive 7.9 average and 14 TDs with 24 receptions for 342 yards and 3 TDs. He finished with 7 consecutive 100 yard games and over 2400 all-purpose yardage breaking his own personal best from the prior season. As a sophomore, he rushed for 1253 yards on 162 carries and 15 TDs, in addition to 40 catches for 561 yards and 4 TDs. He earned Big Sky honors those two seasons. Over his career, he rushed for over 3000 yards for a fine 8 yard average with 29 TDs and 64 catches for 903 yards and 7 TDs with a very impressive 14.1 yard average. He totaled over 4800 yards over his short two-year career at running back. At the NFL Combine, he did not run due to the broken foot. He did 13 reps in the lifting.
The Skinny: He displays a burst through the hole and the cutting skills to change directions and get to the 2nd level. He has top speed to get outside with the suddenness to create big plays consistently. His long injury history is a major concern that probably keeps him limited as a role player initially, though a highly developed one for a change of pace and 3rd down back, in addition to return duties. Talented versatile athlete and good middle round pick with the skills to compete for a few roles, especially the KO return spot and 3rd down role. He likely falls to 3rd day off injuries with the AA to be a top role playmaker. Top 125 player with big play impact to be a difference maker, but a risky performer off injury history.
Draft Projection: 4th-5th Round